Tragic Decline Of Cinema Halls In The Pearl City  

Tragic Decline Of Cinema Halls In The Pearl City - Sakshi Post

By Ravi Valluri

The cinema theatres of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad have disappeared much like the dinosaur and bonobo to name a few animals.

The writer-historian, Yuval Noah Harari has chronicled that once there were 7 species similar to our ancestors but only the Homo sapiens survived.This account though not similar is reasonably akin to the evolution and rise of multiplexes which have replaced the conventional cinema theatres, where the films of NTR and ANR in Telugu, and those of Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan were once screened during the morning, matinee, evening and second shows.

Hyderabad was once well-known for its gargantuan number of cinema halls and the expectant vim and zing attached to the Friday film release. The Friday-film-release was a humongous activity nearly three decades ago when movies provided the greatest form of entertainment. Colour television and rambunctious TV debates had not yet forayed into our ménage to provide an alternative. Of course there was no Netflix in those days of yore as a paroxysm paradigm.

The numerous theatres that dotted the landscape - then still covered with swathes of parks to walk and jog across Tank Bund - is still etched in the memory of many a Hyderabadi who still savour eating the celebrated Biryani.

Bars, biryani and cinema halls became the DNA of the denizens of the Pearl City. Alas, cinema halls have been sacrificed at the altar of fast paced living and lucre.

It will be fascinating to make an inventory of some of the theatres that have entertained Hyderabadis with racy Hindi multi-starrers, B-grade English movies and southern movies apart from Telugu feature films spanning over decades.

1. Sangeeth Theatre: This no-longer-existent cinema hall in the proximity of St Mary’s Church, Rail Nilayam and Secunderabad Railway Station dished out wholesome entertainment. One recalls watching Big B's Don and also Shah Rukh Khan’s version by the same name. The Khan movie though a grosser did not quite match Amitabh Bachchan’s version. For the last few years the place presents a hideous site, an ugly concrete structure. A partially constructed mall has completely ruined the attractiveness of the area as the purported mall remains frozen in time.

2. Maheshwari and Parameshwari: Those who have not seen Shankarabharanam are not Andhras was the refrain of several tabloids and critiques. This talismanic movie apart from the gripping and terrifying Jaws were screened at these twin theatres and drew enthusiastic crowds. The twin cinema halls are in the vicinity of Kacheguda Railway Station.

3. Palace Cinema: The luxuriant and spacious Palace Cinema near the GPO was a fashionable and favoured cinema hall. Hindi movies were the norm. Ajanta cool drinks were liberally served and this was an added attraction for young couples sipping from the same straw.

4. Royal Theatre: Royal in King Kothi was royalty in the neighbourhood of Palace. While Palace preferred screening Hindi movies, Royal offered a variegated choice of movies in multiple languages and drew large audiences.

5. Zamrud Theatre: One of the oldest and grandest in terms of its location -right in the middle of Abids- opposite the older Santhosh Sapna, Zamrud was the grandfather of them all in Hyderabad as far as Hindi movies were concerned. Brobdignian posters of Hindi films (painted of course, back then) displayed all over, where you could barely make out who the stars were depending on the quality of the artist.

6. Navrang, Ashok, Vikranti: The triumvirate of mythical Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh stood side by side in the Jambhag area, near the junction of Mozamjahi market and featured Hindi blockbusters.

7. Lighthouse Theatre: This cinema hall was a heritage structure which became a cynosure of ogling public as it displayed soft porn Malayalam movies. Several youngsters, unsatisfied husbands, budding lovers and harried office goers made a beeline to “illuminate” themselves in Lighthouse.

8. Dreamland Theatre: This epic cinema hall was in the vicinity of Tivoli, and probably is still there. The theatre had a Gothic touch to its architecture with plenty of space. This showed the genre of English movies in particular.

9. Manohar Theatre: One of the nearest to Secunderabad railway station, which played its own version of B grade movies and Telugu movies. One reckons people waiting to board a train say to Bapatla, Warangal or Tirupati killed time here.

10. Shobhana Theatre: This was the first theatre in the Balanagar area and regaled innumerable cinema lovers with the plethora of Telugu and Hindi movies that it screened.

11. Sheeshmahal: A well known landmark in Ameerpet, it stood proudly on the main road. This was a massive theatre in its infancy with the screening of meaningful movies. Cinemagoers fondly recall Dana Veera Soora Karna played at this cinema hall in which the talismanic trouper and founder of Telugu Desam Party, NTR played a pivotal role.

12. Liberty: The theatre was so popular that the bus stop and area at the junction of the road meeting the Basheerbagh-Tank Bund road from Himayat Nagar was called Liberty.

13. Kalpana: This one in Kavadiguda and has been around for decades. It is mostly frequented by Telugu filmgoers.

But today the architecture, landscape and geography of Hyderabad and Secunderabad have changed radically. One does occasionally spot an odd theatre or the cultural centre-point in Ravindra Bharati.

As the city has grown in size, aspirations and ambitions, high rise buildings, large hotels and multiplexes have radically altered the panorama and topography of the twin cities.

But as Buddha said, “Impermanence is the only permanent thing in life.”

It is now left to history and posterity to pass a judgement as to whether collapse of traditional halls and the rise of upmarket multiplexes was a sagacious decision. The jury is still to record the final denouement.

Also Read: The Matter of the Mind - By Ravi Valluri

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